GreenStone directors and farmers Jed Welder and Bruce Lewis discuss the board of directors' dedication to creating solutions for recent challenges, and GreenStone's commitment to healthy growth in the future.
"Growth means a lot of different things. For me as a farmer, it means when you’re down on your hands and knees watching those seedlings come out of the ground. As a father, it means watching both my kids grow up on the farm. And, as part of an organization like GreenStone, it means providing the stability and the means for successful growth for each individual farmer.” – Jed
GreenStone continues to grow opportunities to benefit our members with the value our experienced team and individualized products provide to strengthen the bottom line.
Loan growth ended the year at 8.6 percent, contributing to record net earnings of just over $200 million and ultimately benefiting patronage returned to members. Net earnings are critical to the long-term financial stability of the cooperative, and gives GreenStone the flexibility to responsively support customers through difficult economic shifts. Our net earnings are the result of strong non-interest income, lower than expected loan loss provisions, very manageable credit quality, and solid expense management. They are also the result of member loyalty, and the hard work of our GreenStone employees who forge the customer relationships that have always been the foundation of our success.
“The word ‘unprecedented’ kept getting thrown around this year. The soils are saturated. We had a wet spring, we had a wet fall, and we’ve gotten stuck a lot of times. There are crops still in the field from 2019 and now it’s 2020. Knowing that the people who work at our local GreenStone branch drive by those fields every day, knowing they’re in this fight with us, knowing that the organization is there behind us every step of the way, is important.” – Jed
With priorities to strengthen customer servicing and identify new prospects, 2020 initiatives will help to increase profitability for the company and members. A diversified customer base and expanding market share within the agribusiness and country living sectors feed GreenStone’s growth curve and helps to balance risk. These strategies and others provide a solid financial foundation that allows us to work with customers during good times and in challenging times, while proactively responding to changes in the marketplace.
“I have two sons that work full time with me on the farm, and it’s interesting to try and keep the momentum going for the next generation. I actually have a couple of grandchildren now and they’re showing a lot of interest in agriculture, too. As a farmer and as a GreenStone board member, I want to make sure there are people who understand agriculture to serve the farmer of the future – not only in capital, but for individuals who will be farming 20, 30 years from now.” – Bruce
Helping new farmers and small-scale farmers obtain and maintain the resources they need is a mission central to GreenStone and the Farm Credit System. We are committed to developing Young, Beginning and Small Farmers (YBSF) with educational and financial resources to help secure a solid foundation for their success. In addition to flexible loan financing, GreenStone provides YBSF support through Grow Forward Grants, scholarships and contributions to young farmer educational programs. We understand the challenges individuals face when starting their own farm or taking on ownership of a multi-generational farm, and through our modified underwriting standards and knowledge of specialized Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, we can provide expert resources and financing options for unique situations.
“We’ve got to stay relevant. GreenStone has been in business for over a hundred years, and we want to keep the growth and momentum going into the next hundred years.” – Bruce
Securely growing our online presence and creating consistency with streamlined, ease-of-use tools for online loan applications is a top GreenStone initiative. Launching in 2020, online loan requests will be expanded from country living financing needs to also include agricultural real estate loan requests.
The new Dairy Revenue Protection Analyzer is an online tool that GreenStone offers producers to help them eliminate some of farming’s guessing game. We are dedicated to creating solutions for challenges our members have faced over the last year, and GreenStone remains committed to healthy growth in the future.
“Farmers are eternal optimists. As a member of GreenStone, and now on the board of directors, I often hear the words ‘cautiously optimistic’. I’m not cautiously optimistic. I’m wildly optimistic about agriculture in 2020 and what GreenStone is going to do.” – Jed
VIEW VIDEO: We Cultivate Growth in Many Ways.
Image L-R: Bruce Lewis & Jed Welder